Cheaper pool option backed

Affordable fun . . . Clutha District Council will proceed with a cheaper, six›lane option of two pool and service centre/library complex designs submitted for public consultation recently, as illustrated in this concept render. PHOTO: CLUTHA DISTRICT COUNCIL/SUPPLIED

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Milton residents have reacted positively to a final budget decision for a new pool complex in the town.

On Thursday, key project funder Clutha District Council opted for the cheaper of two possible options to build a new pool and library/service centre complex on the town’s main street.

During recent consultation, ratepayers were presented with a six›lane, $13 million›$14 million option, or a scaled›up, eight›lane complex on an expanded 3360sq m footprint (versus 2713sq m), for $18 million›$20 million.

Councillors voted 14›1 for the less costly option, saying it better represented the community’s wishes.

Milton resident and parent Chris Wills said on Monday he was excited to see the project get under way.

‘‘We’ve got kids, so we’re all excited to see what this project brings for the district.

‘‘I think the smaller option will be fine, as long as there’s enough space for locals to use it.’’

A second resident, who did not wish to be named, also supported the lower›budget option endorsed by the council.

‘‘More affordable — that’s the key. I approve. It’s a good decision.’’

During discussions on Thursday, councillors said the six›lane option was sufficient for a community of Milton’s size at present and would also allow for anticipated population growth.

Cr Lloyd McCall said he had recently visited a five›lane pool in Christchurch where five people were sharing two lanes, while the remainder of the pool was used for ‘‘aqua› cise’’ and other activities.

He encouraged project leaders to consider similar flexibility of use during the detailed design process.

This was supported by Cr John Herbert, who said that only 5% of pool users were lane swimmers.

‘‘The rest of the people are there for family fun or leisure swimming,’’ he said.

In response, council chief executive Steve Hill said the two options presented allowed for a variety of interior fit›outs. The facility will be funded by council rates, central government funding (subject to confirmation of the Three Waters Better Off funding support package), and community fundraising and grants, which will be overseen by the Bruce Community Facilities Trust.

Trust chairman Stephen Woodhead said he was ‘‘very pleased’’ to receive the council decision.

‘‘After several years of work, we have a confirmed project for the whole community to get behind and that is very exciting.

‘‘It will be a fabulous facility, a game›changing development for the town’s main street and for the wider district.

‘‘The community can now focus on the significant challenge to raise $2 million to contribute to the funding of the swimming pool.’’

The complex will be built on the site of the current council library› service centre in Union St.

Mr Hill said consultation covered the increased costs associated with the project, as Covid›19›related supply challenges and cost increases in the building industry resulted in increases from initial estimates.

‘‘The decision marks an important step forward for the district and council looks forward to working alongside the Bruce community facilities committee to progress this facility,’’ he said.

A new pool was approved in 2019 as part of the council’s annual plan process, to replace the current pool and the Milton Service Centre and Library, which require significant repairs.

The facilities trust and committee were formed to drive the project forward with council support. Council funding of the facility will be included in the 2023›24 annual plan budget.